Updated: November 2023,
This is an article about the importance of language and children
Anytime you’d like your children’s behavior to change, rather than what you don’t like or want them to do, try to tell them what you’d like in a positive way.
Consider that the subconscious doesn’t process a negative. (Try this, Don’t think of a pink elephant.)
So a ‘Don’t’ statements can sometimes put the thoughts into the child’s head, when it was the furthest thing in their mind. Have you ever said something like, “Don’t climb on the sofa,” to look over and see your child using it like a trampoline?
Try, “Go and sit on the sofa. Remember, keep feet on the floor.”
Also, sometimes kids are so focused on what they’re doing, they can miss hearing the first word, or it’s just lost in the background noise.
Read the two statements below, skipping the first word to see what I mean.
“Don’t run with scissors.” (Try, “Tammy, make sure you walk when you have scissors.”)
“Don’t chase the ball onto the road!” (Try yelling as loud as you can, “STOPPP!!!”)
The Stop Go Game
On that note, when your children are little play the Stop Go game. It’s a little like ‘Simon Says’, but it’s more simple and you’re not trying to trick anyone.
Let them go a little bananas by saying, “We’re going to play “Stop Go.” I’m going to say “Go,” and ask you do do some crazy things, you make as much noise as you can, but when I say “Stop” you freeze like a snowman, OK?”
It’s important to get each child’s OK or Yes, before commencing.
Say “Go” and get them doing loud ‘silly stuff’, the more out of the normal the better. It’s permission to go a little crazy and young kids love it!
“Jump up and down”. “Jump up and down and clap”. “Run in circles” “Run in circles, yelling,” I love you mom and dad!”
You get the idea, here’s a couple to get you going, “Wave your arms over you head, Wave your arms over you head and make as much noise as you can”, Give yourself a hug and jump up and down and yell “I’m fantastic!”.
Whatever is loud, energetic (and maybe a little forbidden). We want them to hear through the noise and activity.
Just do one or two things at a time, and the first time simply say, “Stop” in a slightly raised voice.” No real urgency or haste, we don’t want to startle them.
But, do make sure that they freeze instantly. Whoever does, point and yell “Whoo hoo, Winner Winner you’re a grinner.” For another child say, “Winner, winner, chicken dinner.” Make it silly!
If any motion continues, point and make the “Uh…uhh”… noise, like a ‘wrong answer’ buzzer on a game show. (No need to say any words, just the and please, please, please don’t call them a loser, that can hurt.)
After they freeze say “Go” and repeat. Do it a few times, varying the loudness of your “stop.” The first time is a little raised, then try it in a low voice, almost a whisper, to make sure they’re listening.
And to embed the memory for the last one, yell STOPPPPP!!” AND jump up and down, AND wave your hands in the air. Like it was an emergency stop.
Then laugh, say “Here, please” to call your children in for hugs and laughter to end the game. More than likely, you will get a good laugh from the kids as you act a little crazy as well. Ask them if it was fun, and would they like to do it again later. You’ll always get a yes.
(My dad would use the Spanish “Aquí por favor.” It was unmistakable that he wanted us to go to him and it also worked in a crowd getting our attention, calling “Aquí por favor” out loud rather than calling out 3 children’s names.)
The game is great particularly when your kids are needing to burn off some energy. Sometimes, my kids would even ask to play the “Stop Go game, particularly when they had friends around.”
You never know when you might need it.
Your next “Stop Go” game could be a matter of life and death.